Delta investigating YouTube prankster's claim he was booted from flight for speaking Arabic
YouTube star Adam Saleh is shown during an incident on a Delta Airlines flight at Heathrow Airport on Dec. 21, 2016. (Twitter / Adam Saleh)
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, December 21, 2016 10:24AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 21, 2016 11:00AM EST
Delta Airlines is looking into a YouTube celebrity's claim that he was booted off a flight, after passengers allegedly complained that he made them uncomfortable by speaking Arabic to his mother.
Adam Saleh, whose YouTube channel has more than 2 million subscribers and 492 million views, tweeted a video he recorded aboard the flight on Wednesday.
"We spoke a different language on the plane and now we're getting kicked out," Saleh says in the video. He can be seen standing in the aisle of a packed flight, with stewardesses in front of him and behind him.
Saleh says another passenger complained that it made him uncomfortable to hear Saleh speaking Arabic to his friend and his mother on the phone.
"Six white people against us bearded men," Saleh, 22, says in the video.
Saleh shared the video with his 259,000 Twitter followers on Wednesday morning. The tweet quickly went viral, with 161,000 retweets and 100,000 likes in the first three hours.
Delta airlines just kicked Adam and i off the plane because we were speaking Arabic...— Slim Albaher (@SlimmySlim94) December 21, 2016
Saleh followed the video with more clips and messages about the incident, including a tearful rant from the terminal after he was kicked off.
"When (my mom) finds out, she's going to cry. That's why I'm crying," he says. He added that his mother does not speak English, so he has to speak with her in Arabic.
- WARNING: Some of these videos contain coarse language.
DELTA KICKEDF us out https://t.co/R9t9WObNLb— Adam Saleh (@omgAdamSaleh) December 21, 2016
The video does not show passengers actually taking issue with Saleh speaking Arabic.
Saleh is popular on YouTube for his pranks and social experiments, which have included various antics at airports and onboard airplanes.
Saleh says a handful of Urdu-speaking passengers came to his defence in the dispute, but they were outnumbered by other passengers saying they felt uncomfortable.
"You guys say you guys are scared of me, you guys are scared of Muslims?" Saleh says to an airline representative in the airport. "I'm scared of you guys."
A woman can be heard in one video asking him to turn off the camera, but Saleh says he has it on because he doesn't trust Delta. The camera is pointed at Saleh throughout the conversation.
We are still stuck at the airport and Delta has not given us any info. They keep telling us to wait. Please spread the word #BoycottDelta— Adam Saleh (@omgAdamSaleh) December 21, 2016
Saleh posted a series of updates approximately four hours after the incident, in which he says security checked him again before he boarded a flight with another airline.
Delta acknowledged in a statement that a disruption took place on a London-to-New York flight Wednesday morning. "Two customers were removed from this flight and later rebooked after a disturbance in the cabin resulted in more than 20 customers expressing their discomfort," the airline said.
Delta says it will conduct a full review of the incident. "We are taking allegations of discrimination very seriously," the airline said. "Our culture requires treating others with respect."
The website FlightAware shows the plane was 53 minutes behind schedule following the incident.
A number of Twitter users expressed their anger over the alleged treatment of Saleh.
Like Americans can even tell the difference between Arabic,Urdu, Farsi. they just saw a bearded brown guy not speaking English #boycottdelta— Jenna (@Chezmoihoney) December 21, 2016
You're expecting people flying from an airport w/ flights coming in from multiple countries to all speak one language? #boycottdelta— Yasmine (@YasmineSumman) December 21, 2016
#DeltaAirlines— Sam Hussin (@Husammax) December 21, 2016
Kicking a man out of the airplane for speaking his own language? This is the absolute terrorism. You should be prosecuted
After seeing the video of a #DeltaAirlines crew kicking out two men who spoke Arabic on the plane, never flying with them again. Disgusting.— Jhen B ♡ (@jenniferr_bee) December 21, 2016
#DeltaAirlines you won't making America great by being racist— Mojo (@mojomoori) December 21, 2016